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Who are you?: a look into our consciousness

Nov. 2, 2017
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DISCLAIMER: I am no scientific expert, and the research I’ve done has come from my readings of other articles. The topic I’ve discussed is a subjective one, so feel free to disagree with everything I’ve mentioned.  

“Who am I?” is a question filled with ambiguity which everyone wants to be able to answer. Key among the elements that make us human is the mysterious matter known as consciousness. There are many different forms of consciousness, different definitions of what it truly is, and many different ways people approach the topic. In this piece, we’ll be taking a look at a few common theories concerning ghosts, cartoons, and the most important factor of all: yourself.

When we think of consciousness, we think of our awareness of everything around us—our reality, our selves and personalities, and other people and their personalities. According to the dictionary definition, consciousness is the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. Many people theorise that consciousness is a physical ailment which afflicts your brain. This is true to an extent: everything about you, from the decisions you make to what you sense and feel to how you express yourself, comes from that pink and gooey-soft matter inside your head. 

On the other hand, there are those who believe that this enigmatic concept does not have a physical form, but rather a dualistic one.

In one article, Max Tegmark of MIT hypothesised that—like solids, liquids and gases—our consciousness is a state of matter, but one beyond those known to your high school physics textbook. Think quantum: “Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many forms of consciousness,” Tegmark remarks. With this new breakthrough research, we are a step closer to discovering, in depth, the core of everything about us. In another theory based on Einstein’s statement that “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form into another,” Dr. David Hamilton states that our consciousness is an eternal spirit—an invisible force that has lived beyond our lifetimes: “I believe that each of us exists before we are on earth.” 

I’m no professional scientist, but as a person who had a religious upbringing and was raised with beliefs of life beyond mortality (heaven and hell, for example, or a more general afterlife), this has convinced me that ghosts, reincarnation and out-of-body experiences could be real. That our consciousness could be the ghosts that haunt the old buildings or the empty roads, the soul that momentarily leaves our body or the spirit that once lived in the life of another human from hundred years ago. Of course, these are just hypothetical, so we can’t be too certain if this is true—but since our knowledge in this complicated aspect is so limited, this is one thing many of us rely on. 

Another way that consciousness is proven to be non-materialistic: Princeton neuroscientist and novelist Michael Graziano has mentioned ventriloquism and its significance to the idea of consciousness. If a puppet has no brains, how come it is able to talk with its own personality and we can understand it like another person? How about a smartphone, such as the Google Pixel, where you’re able to ask questions and it answers back and it responds from your physical contact? Consciousness is like the dark and unknown abyss that no one has explored in depth yet—not only is it challenging to get your head around this idea, but it’s fascinating to think about it and the different possibilities we could have when it comes to learning about ourselves and the world around us. 

Mr. Graziano also continues to say that “to mistakenly attribute [consciousness] to puppets, characters in stories and cartoons on a screen—then, despite appearances, it really can’t be sealed up within the privacy of our own heads.” Does that mean consciousness is omnipresent? That ghosts are real? Either way, as someone who grew up watching Ghost Adventures, ghosts, spirits and alleged hauntings in houses are definitely real to me. 

But the main question haunting this article is: who are you really? Despite some of the scientific theories and evidence that I’ve mentioned, no one can really answer that for you. Self-discovery always starts with you, after all. This little piece I wrote may be following one of the more logical platforms, but when learning about yourself and your consciousness, you’re liable to travel all sorts of paths—like meditation (i.e. tapping into your inner self) or simply living life as you usually live it. Whatever your way may be of making sense of the world, reality and your own identity, I hope you do this with a positive mind. And perhaps someday, in future, we may learn who we truly are at the core. 

cover photo courtesy of trueka